The Fighting Boys
I sat in my car in the hot Houston sun, gazing absently at the traffic light, listening to NGEN Radio and trying to think good thoughts.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a sudden, shouldn’t-be-there movement.
I glanced quickly to the side to discover the driver next to me had thrown his car door open and hopped out, his face contorted with rage. He was shouting at a young man on the side of the road.
The young man on the side of the road was shouting back.
The boy with the car was 5’11,” sandy blonde hair and very muscular. I-work-out-a-lot muscular. (Maybe even I-work-out-a-lot-AND-TAKE-STERIODS muscular.) He wore a T shirt and Adidas shorts.
The boy on the side of the road was tall and well built too – but not I-work-out-a-lot built. He had a thick head of black hair, and his skin was Mediterranean brown. He wore a short-sleeve Oxford shirt and a pair of jeans.
Three lanes of traffic IN ALL FOUR DIRECTIONS, orange construction cones strewn in seemingly erratic patterns all over the intersection (this is the Houston way of things) -- and the boy near the car, HIS CAR STILL RUNNING, door gaping open, moved around to the front of his car and paused, still shouting. He slapped both hands on his chest and took a step forward.
The boy on the side of the road shouted and took a step forward as well.
The expression on the boy’s face beside me, as he continued to gesture and shout, made my stomach knot. Yet, as if it had a mind of its own, my left hand slipped down to the handle on my car door.
What should I do?
I didn’t – oh I really didn’t– want the boys to fight. Would the boys listen to a 5’2” woman wearing navy blue scrubs with paw prints on the sleeves? Or would it be like the Youtube fights that go viral: the girl tries to break up the fight and gets punched in the face?
WHAT would Jesus want me to do? I wondered.
Suddenly, the boy near the car TORE OFF HIS SHIRT and began to move rapidly toward the boy on the side of the road.
And The Universe froze.
It was as if everything slowed to a complete. stop. My radio fell silent, and I felt a profound stillness surround me -- and it felt as if the stillness was enveloping the other drivers too. It was as if time stood still, and we were – all of us – watching the two boys. Holding our breath…wondering what would happen next. Wondering what we should do.
I glanced over at the car, the door still hanging open, and I saw a rosary hanging from the rearview mirror of the angry boy’s car.
Oh, his mother… I thought impulsively.
Did the boy have a little Catholic mother somewhere, I wondered. Who prayed for her angry son?
Something-I-Can't-Explain flooded through me, and suddenly
I FELT LIKE I WAS HIS MOTHER.
That was MY blonde-haired blue-eyed boy with the bulging biceps, six-pack abs and rage-filled face. And MY BOY was SO ANGRY. My heart tightened in a spasm as I glanced over at the boy on the side of the road and <DOUBLE BAM> suddenly I was HIS mother too. I searched his dark face with those huge brown eyes, like a mother searches a son’s face, and I saw that he would fight if he had to, but he was also afraid. He was taking little steps away, even as he shouted. The shouting was to save face; the tiny steps betrayed his apprehension.
I burst into tears. My boys. My boys were upset and they were going to fight.
“Please, God, please,” I said aloud in my car. “Please don’t let the boys fight.”
I think maybe I wasn’t alone. I think maybe other people at the light were whispering the same prayer because…
The first boy stopped suddenly, hesitated a moment, then turned around, retraced his steps, and threw himself back into his car. Oh, he was shouting as he went, but he did go back. The boy on the road was shouting too. But he was walking away while he did it.
The Stillness held for one.more.moment.
And then the world of sound and movement came crashing back into my awareness, the traffic light changed, the honking began again and everyone at the intersection moved forward into their day – each person feeling an odd sense of happiness…even though some of the people weren’t really sure why…
Ahhhh...our boys. Our fighting boys.
You know what? I don't think our fighting boys really want to fight. I think they've just forgotten Who They Really Are. And they feel so angry.
The next time you see an angry person, can you remember his True Nature for him?
Can you remember what he has forgotten – that he is made in the image of Our Father? Can you see past the anger and see the man who needs help? Can you reach out to him, in acts or in thought – from that place?
--- Listen to me. God dwells within the next angry person you meet. It’s just that the angry person has forgotten this. Help him remember.
You are called to help your brothers and sisters remember Who They Really Are. Do this, and you hold forever safe Who You Really Are.